The Design of Everyday Things
Donald A. Norman
Reading the text enabled me to observe everyday objects in a more detailed manner. You wouldn’t have had realised that the design, shape and material of the everyday item has a meaningful purpose! I picked up some keywords utilised when making a product such as affordances, mapping, constraints and visibility. The terms cultivates the designer to not only design, but to also factor in the considerations of the user. If something were to look aesthetically pleasing but people find it hard at a glance for the object to function then it’s generally a failed design.
Question 1: The author delves deeper into ‘everyday things’ and mentions about 20,000 of them, right down to it’s parts. Although the book may have been outdated as it was published in 1988, and we are are comfortable with the idea of one button one function, the usage of the screen-based products such as smartphone has limitless functions (to call, to type a message, to play games, to watch videos, take pictures etc.)
As the author had also mentioned about combining multiple things together as a product and saying that it fails to sustain as an everyday object because it was too cluttered … In our future, would it be possible to take into account the use of screen-based technology to solve similar issues?
Question 2: Wouldn’t there exists a “universal design” whereby an object (e.g mug, ball) best remains as it’s original state and further actions done to it are only aesthetic?
Hidden in Plain Sight, “Calibrating your Cultural Compass”
This chapter enabled me to critically analyse our way of life. What is most fascinating from the text is that Chipchase has incorporated varied perspective on certain topics which helps us to see the difference between our society and another’s. It has overall helped broaden my depth of thinking and wonder of the ‘other’ person in mind when it comes to designing experiences. However, he merely touches and go on these “everyday experiences” and did not really provide a framework on how to design and build such an environment.
Question 1: I particularly enjoyed the reading on signage. I do pay attention to its symbols but never realized of their underlying meaning. Chipchase presents his observations of the main language used in the signs, their usage of the icons and prohibited signs. He mentions that the signs “tells us more about the local culture”. However, I disagree with his views on the matter. Probably, from my point of view, the dollar sign “$” currency determines if the country is ‘westernized’. But, would legislative ‘By Law’ signs or even directional signs say much about a culture to help you design an experience?
Question 2: The approaches to observation takes place in different forms, what Chipchase has done in the chapter has largely to do with integrating within the culture by communicating with them and also distancing himself to view the bigger picture. But what if his observations are constantly distracted with previous misconceptions? If so, wouldn’t doing survey/ field tests be more of a qualifiable resource to design an experience?